2018 Cadillac CTS
Now in its third generation, the Cadillac CTS is no longer a "tweener" intended to simultaneously do battle with compact and midsize competitors. Instead, it's a genuine rival for the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and other midsize models in terms of space, luxury, technology and performance, as well as price.
For the latest model year, Cadillac added Apple Watch integration and an updated infotainment system.
It's been a while since Cadillac has truly been able to deliver on the promise of its "Standard of the World" tagline. The athletic ATS sedan comes close on the handling front, but it's the polished, well-rounded CTS that really has what it takes to match - and sometimes exceed - what the best luxury cars from all corners of the globe can offer.
It all begins with an exterior that's at once elegant and assertive, sophisticated and sporty. Separate but aligned LED running lights in the swept-back headlights and lower front fascia provide a unique bit of flair, while a broad grille and elongated hood hint at the sedan's handling capabilities, which were honed on the Germany's challenging Nurburgring course.
The cabin blends a modern design with high-quality furnishings, with trim choices including anodized aluminum, carbon fiber and numerous selections of wood. None need be qualified by an "imitation-" prefix - they're the real deal. Soft semi-analine leather is available, as are a wide variety of upholstery colors. A conventional instrument cluster with a 5.7-inch information screen flanked by analog gauges is standard, and a 12.3-inch reconfigurable TFT gauge cluster can be spec'd for a more high-tech and customizable experience.
As with all modern Cadillacs, the CTS is fitted with the controversial CUE infotainment system, which is operated through an eight-inch touchscreen interface in the center stack along with capacitive-touch controls. Similar to tablet devices, it lets users tap, flick and swipe to control Bluetooth connectivity, entertainment and navigation functions while also providing access to weather information, local fuel prices, Pandora internet radio and more.
The CTS provides stretch-out space for front occupants, though it should be noted that the rear seats and 13.7-cubic-inch trunk are slightly small for the class.
Power and Performance
The CTS is underpinned by General Motors' rear-wheel-drive-based "Alpha" platform, the same sturdy yet lightweight platform that forms the basis of the sporty ATS. The sedan was developed with an extreme emphasis on weight reduction, with care taken to shave mass wherever possible in order to improve acceleration, handling and efficiency. The result is that that the base CTS burdens the earth with just 3,616 lbs., or around 200 lbs less than a BMW 528i.
Three different engines are available with the CTS. Standard on all trims but the Vsport is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 268 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Midlevel CTS trims can be spec'd with a 3.6-liter V6 that's good for 335 horsepower and 285 lb-ft. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission
Intended to compete with V8-powered models like the BMW 550i and Mercedes E550, the Vsport features a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 with 420 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque - enough for a claimed zero-to-60 mph sprint time of just 4.6 seconds.
All-wheel-drive is an available option on 2.0-liter and 3.6-liter models to boost foul weather traction. An eight-speed automatic transmission comes standard across the board.
A crisp handler in base form, the CTS can be made more agile - as well as more comfortable - with an optional Magnetic Ride Control system that adjusts the dampers to ensure flat cornering as well as a smooth ride.
More than just a powerful engine, the Vsport includes a host of other upgrades intended to turn the already agile CTS into a seriously responsive sport sedan. These include Brembo disc brakes, a driver-selectable track mode for the standard Magnetic Ride Control system, an electronic limited-slip differential, a heavy-duty track cooling package, a quickened steering ratio and 18-inch wheels shod with Pirelli summer tires (19-inchers with all-season rubber are available).
Trim Level Breakdown
The CTS is available in base, Luxury, Premium Luxury, V-Sport, and V-Sport Luxury trims.
The base model comes with the 2.0-liter turbo four, an 11-speaker Bose sound system, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic dual-zone climate control, cruise control, a 5.7-inch display in the gauge cluster, keyless entry and start, OnStar, rear parking sensors, shift paddles, a universal home remote, LED daytime running lights, a wireless smartphone charger, front bucket seats, a manually-adjustable steering column, a multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel, power windows, illuminated vanity mirrors in the sun visors, heated door mirrors, an electronic parking brake, and Brembo brakes on both axles.
The Luxury trim also comes with the two-liter turbo four, though the naturally-aspirated six-cylinder is offered at an extra cost. It offers the same standard features as base models, but it's available with option packages not offered on cheaper models.
Premium Luxury models gain Cadillac's rear mirror camera tech, a surround-view camera, HID headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped by run-flat tires, Magnetic Ride Control, and the naturally-aspirated V6 engine.
V-Sport models boast the twin-turbocharged V6, a sport steering wheel, an electronic limited-slip differential, an engine oil indicator, and a bigger cooling system.
Finally, V-Sport Premium Luxury models receive a rear camera mirror. The trim also gives buyers access to more option packages.
Speaking of option packages, highlights from the list include the Advanced Security package, which adds an alarm, an inclination sensor, a steering column lock, locking wheel lugs, and laminated glass out back. The Driver Assist package brings automatic safety belt tightening, adaptive cruise control, automatic collision braking, and forward/reverse automatic braking. Appearance packages that bring different wheels and blacked-out trim pieces are also available.
The CTS comes standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
An extensive array of safety technologies are optional, including a lane departure system that warns the driver if the CTS begins to wander into an adjacent lane; forward collision alert; rear cross-traffic alert; front and rear automatic braking that uses sensors to identity potential low-speed crashes and autonomous applies the brakes if the driver doesn't react; and blind-spot monitoring.
The CTS is aimed directly at the cream the midsize luxury sedan crop, including the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6, Jaguar XF and Infiniti Q70.